Design and Evaluation of Day1 Peer Partnership Learning Course Materials for General Chemistry and General Biology

Student Author(s)

Elizabeth Ensink
Morgan Ricker

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Justin Shorb, Professor Carrie Dummer, and Professor Vanessa Muilenburg

Document Type


Event Date



First-year college students encounter a multitude of obstacles ranging from acclimating to living away from home to adapting to a higher level of course rigor. In Fall 2015, Hope College launched “Day1 Research Communities”, a program designed to promote retention and performance of first year students in STEM fields through interdisciplinary research projects. In addition to shared residence halls and coursework, students enrolled in Day1 participate in Peer Partnership Learning (PPL) activities on a weekly basis. PPL Leaders attend all lectures for a given section and lead one or two PPL sessions per week for approximately 10 students. The design for these sessions has been built from a literature review of best practices for problem solving in STEM fields, the information processing model of learning, social cognitive theory, and integrated learning of study skills. Worksheets for the first semester of introductory biology and chemistry have been created in partnership with lecture professors in order to train this first generation of PPL Leaders and promote collaborative learning. Goals for their implementation, a template for their generation, and a plan for evaluation will be presented.


This research was supported by the Day1 Program and the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.

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